Temple Israel Tour

Thanks to the Adult Education Committee, fifteen members of Elkhorn Hills UMC toured Temple Israel and dined at Charred restaurant on Thursday, June 21st.

“It was a very enjoyable outing!”

Tour Highlights

Rabbi Deana Sussman Berezin led our tour.  She told us about the building itself, several art pieces, the cherished Torah Scrolls, and about the Tri-Faith Initiative.  We toured the Chapel and the Sanctuary.  Throughout the tour she provided information about the various sects within the Jewish faith, duties and responsibilities of a rabbi, and answered questions we had about various topics.

The building contained both sacred art and a travelling art exhibit.

Hashkiveinu – windows

The Hebrew prayer on the windows is amazing!  Michigan artist Lynne Avadenka was tasked with bringing Hebrew passages to life as a graphical representation on the sanctuary’s clerestory windows.  The artist created hand-drawn excerpts of the prayer chosen by the worship committee.  One passage – “Grant, O God, that we lie down in peace and raise up, our Guardian, to life renewed. Spread over us the shelter of Your peace.” – can be read inside the sanctuary, while two other passages can be read from outside the building – “For You, God, watch over us and deliver us. For You, God, are gracious and merciful.”

Aron Hakodesh (Ark) – chapel

The aron kodesh (“holy ark”) is where the Torah Scrolls are kept.  The ark is the holiest place in the synagogue.  The ark is opened only during special prayers and when removing the Torah to read during prayer services.

The ark in the chapel, which was designed by Rabbi Sidney Brooks, was taken from the Cass Street building’s Livingston Chapel. It represents hope after the Holocaust with its branch and bud motif.  The text on the ark door reads, “And the surviving remnant which is escaped of the House of Judah shall again take root downward and bear fruit upward.”

Stained Glass Windows

Local artist Bill Hammon was commissioned to execute the stained glass windows that were affixed in the windows of the sanctuary at the Cass Street building. The windows now sit in the hallway of the current building, opposite the Yahrzeit wall.  The windows suggest the bright colors of morning and the softer shades of evening, recalling this passage from the Creation story, “And God called the light Day and the darkness he called Night. And it was evening and it was morning, one day.”

Photo Gallery

About Temple Israel

Temple Israel is a Reform Jewish Congregation in Omaha.  In January 1871, eleven men founded this congregation, the first in Nebraska.   For many decades, this was the only Jewish school in Omaha and served the entire Jewish community, regardless of affiliation or financial status.  Temple Israel’s synagogue had been at 70th and Cass Streets since 1954.  Today, more than 725 families belong to Temple Israel.  On August 25, 2013, congregants paraded one of the Torah Scrolls six miles from Cass Street to their new home at Sterling Ridge, 132nd and Pacific Streets.

Click here to the OWH article about the Torah Scrolls.

Click here to learn more about Temple Israel.

Tri Faith Initiative

The Tri-Faith Initiative is made up of three Abrahamic faith groups who have chosen to be in relationship together as neighbors on one campus, committed to practicing respect, acceptance and trust. Our three members are of the Jewish, Christian, and Islamic faiths: Temple Israel, Countryside Community Church (UCC), and The American Muslim Institute.

We believe that we are being led together by our God and that we are all called to be a blessing to each other and our community. As far as we know, our shared commons is the only undertaking of its kind. But it’s a big world out there; we celebrate, support, and join in the flow of interfaith work that is practiced all around the globe.

Click here to learn more about the Tri Faith Initiative.


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